Situated just over the Peruvian border on the southern shores of Lake Titicaca, Copacabana Bolivia is an unexpected backpacker haven. Streets are lined with cheap bars, restaurants and there’s a ton of things to do. It has more in common with a small dilapidated British seaside town than my initial idea of Bolivia, and maybe that’s why we connected with it. Once there, we decided to stay for a few days to gently ease ourselves into this big new country.
What to Do?
Seriously. For 25 Bolivianos ($3 USD) we ate the biggest freshest trout I’ve ever tasted. The setting is basic with plastic tables and chairs in what is essentially a tent – but the food is anything but. The fish is offered in a variety of styles but simply grilled with lemon and salt was amazing. Melt in your mouth good. Head down to the lake and you can’t miss the shacks all lined up in a row touting for business.
Having both never been on a jet ski we decided we had to give it a go. Probably the cheapest place on earth we paid 100 Bolivianos ($14 USD) for 20 minutes zooming around out on the water. It was over too soon but we had all the fun while we were out there.
Hike the Mirador (Cerro Calvario)
A lung busting 45 minute hike brings you to the top of this impressive viewpoint where you can look out over the whole town.
The summit is covered with interesting religious monuments and many people head up here to make offerings. There’s several stalls where you can buy various gifts to leave to Pachamama (Mother Earth). Some of the more bizarre included a toy petrol station and rolls of fake money.
Hike to Yampupata
We read about this on another blog and thought it sounded like a nice easy stroll from their description. Totally unprepared we set off for what turned out to be a 5 hour epic journey.
However it was awesome and took us through mountains, small towns while all the while skirting the impressive Lake Titicaca.
Just remember to take water as there’s no shops along the route (our error). Thankfully it’s easy to flag a collectivo taxi back for around 30 bolivianos when you’re done. Look out for the many curious animals on route…
Isla Del Sol
Another ‘surprise’ hike. We did this hungover to shit and it was a lot tougher than anticipated. The two hour boat takes you from the dock to this small island inhabited by a local indigenous community.
There’s no cars or much actually and so the only thing to do is hike the circumference. Again we thought it might be an hour or two of gentle strolling with a nice spot of lunch, but it turned out to be quite hardcore.
Lots of up and down trekking but at least we were rewarded with spectacular views the whole way round. If only we weren’t so hanging I think we’d have enjoyed it a lot more.
Where We Stayed.
Los Andes Hotel
Looking a bit like the Bates Motel, this place is pretty imposing from the outside. I think we were the only people staying in this huge 60 room building which kind of made it a little bit creepy. However the rooms were massive, we had a top floor lake view and breakfast was included – all for $16 USD per night. The staff were friendly once you got to know them (day 3) – they just took a bit of warming up..
This was our first nights stop (one of the only places on Booking.com) and is a decent option if Los Andes is full. However I don’t think Los Andes has EVER been full. Good breakfast here and they have a very cool/friendly springer spaniel called Pepe.
Where We Ate.
There’s heaps of restaurants up and down the two main strips that lead to the lake. Menu of the day type meals consisting of a soup, main and dessert are around 25 blvs ($3.50 USD). There’s more expensive options available if you’re not on a budget but we tended to stick to to these and weren’t disappointed. Here’s our favourites:
- Copacabana Coffee Shop – Solid evening meals for 20 blvs.
- El Condor and the Eagle – Great breakfasts with an Irish twist.
- Maura’s Restaurant – Big portions, quick service.
- La Cupula – Great trout and the Fondue looked good if that’s your thing.
- The Market – For a seriously tasty and cheap snack pick up some traditional Bolivian Saltenas. Kind of like a sweet pastry empanada filled with potato, peas eggs and meats. About 50c each. We always took a few of these when setting off on a hike.
All these you can find easily on Maps Me/Google Maps app.
After a week in our deserted hotel we decided it was time to say goodbye to this lakeside haven and head off into Bolivia proper. There’s a lot to keep you occupied in Copacabana but I don’t think it’s truly representative of the country as a whole. Nevertheless it’s definitely worth spending a good few days here before really delving into the rest of this interesting, proud and vibrant nation.
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